From architecture to passion for literary translation

Da arquitetura à paixão pela tradução literária

Sandra Tamele has a degree in architecture from the Eduardo Mondlane University, but it is in letters and translations where her true passion lies. It all started back in college when she was studying architecture in 2006.

In architecture school we had Italian professors and a free Italian language course. I grabbed the opportunity and started using these two languages (English and Italian) to pay the tuition, through the explanations I gave? says Sandra Tamele, founder of Trinta Zero Nove, the most ?recent? publishing house dedicated to translation, interpretation and publication of books.

And this is how the passion for translation and interpretation was born. We'll get to that in a moment. After a journey of almost a decade in the world of literature and translation, with many writings and records, (which were not welcomed), was born precisely in 2018, the Thirty Zero Nine.

In early 2018 (?) because I thought those texts that were on the computer deserved to be published, and after knocking on several publishers' doors without success, I decided to move forward in what I most like to do and have done in this area on my own,? she proudly assures. And this is how the genesis of Trinta Zero Nove began.



?if no publisher was willing to publish the translation, I would be the dedicated publisher to do the publishing? tells MZNews the 42-year-old entrepreneur, who at the time saw the scenario as an opportunity to create her own publishing house. The dedication allied to the passion for work has meant that throughout this still short path, Trinta Zero Nove has evolved considerably. And today the list of translated works is immense.

From national and international titles. ?you know, I have 51 titles in the catalog right now and they are available digitally because digital publishing is less expensive,? she says, and continues: ?my vision is to have one title a month at least, but really we could have a release every week,? she assumes.

In terms of investment, the entrepreneur says she has already disbursed from her own pocket a little over 4 million meticais since the beginning of Trina Zero Nove, and currently has eight freelance collaborators.

It is a big investment, but at the same time rewarding when I see the results of the work that is being done," he says, sitting at his office desk in front of his ?giant? computer in Marracuene where he also currently resides.

High Flights

Since its founding in 2018, Thirty Zero Nine has embarked on great ?flights? when it comes to translations. ?yes, we have done translations in several national and foreign languages?

We have books in eight languages at the moment," he says with satisfaction. We translate into Arabic, English, French, German, Spanish and Italian," she says. Ah, one of the factors that sets us apart is that we are also translating into the most widely spoken national languages," she says.

?by publishing in these languages we can reach the market that is not being served by our competitors? she says with conviction, ?even those who are illiterate will be able to have access to literary works because I don't think illiteracy implies a lack of interest in reading?

And we are going further now because we want to be truly inclusive, so we are combining hybrid format with audio and sign language interpretation. So whoever goes to our Youtube site will see a book in a different format, a book that is accessible to everyone? And it doesn't stop there. Besides doing the translation, we want to promote inclusive reading, both financially (making the book more accessible to everyone), gender-wise and including the aspect of disability?



As far as the publishing line is concerned, Thirty Zero Nine is interested in translating authors whose books address minority issues, which raise relevant questions.

In only four years of existence in the Mozambican market, Trinta Zero Nove has already sealed partnerships internationally and beyond. In 2020 it sealed an agreement that will allow the distribution of books through the digital platforms of the African Books Collective. We are the first Portuguese-speaking publisher to enter this distribution network, which allows us to reach 80 points of sale, both physical and digital bookstores," he says.

?in Portuguese-speaking Africa we are the first in this respect? he adds. In terms of national titles, the publisher has already translated into English, French and German the work of Paulina Chiziane (Niketche), Ungulani Ba ka Khosa (Ualalapi) in English, among other titles. In the list of ?out of doors? the entrepreneur has translated works by Nageeb Mahfouz, Wole Soyinka, Lupita Nyongo, Raymond Antrobus from English and Italian into Portuguese.

From an earning point of view, in addition to international projection, translations provide authors with 6% of the sales value. Last year, Trinta Zero Nove was the winner of the best literary translation initiative in the world, in a contest held annually and organized by the London International Book Fair. In 2021 we managed to make history. It was the first time that this happens at the PALOP level," he says.

The story of the beginning

Since childhood Tamele has had a strong connection with languages. When I was studying I had a particular aptitude for language assimilation. I learned English by myself. As soon as I learned the ABC's I started trying to explore the books at home, very quickly, I think by the age of 10 I had read all the books at home," she recalls.

?and many of these books could not be found in other languages (?) so I took an English book and taught myself to speak English (?) and at the age of 11 I already spoke and could communicate in that language? she tells MZNews.

Little did he know that language would become his work tool and would take him where he is today. In 2007, after finishing his degree in architecture, Tamele got an internship in his field. ?during this period I discovered that I would not be able to earn a salary in what was my ambition, and it was at this point that I started translating full-time? he recalls.


A true re-encounter with books that is the result of a passion that has ?followed? her since childhood. It was in this year that I was able to launch my first literary translation. It was a book that was conceived from Italian into Portuguese", she says excitedly.

In the middle of all this process, Tamele saw the need to improve her linguistic knowledge in the field of translation. In 2010, she decided to take a training course in translation (?) ?and in 2011 she was the first Mozambican woman to obtain a diploma in translation from an English organization that tests through a two-year training course, and exams to achieve this title? she says.

Today with Trinta Zero Nove the translator intends to go much further. And even in the short term, she intends to build a bookstore, a library, and will also include an office. Our aim is for this project to come to fruition as early as April, Book Day. We are now in talks with the administration of Marracuene, so this is the part that does not flow as much?

But the Trinta Zero Nove publishing house's projects don't end there. Within the scope of social responsibility, the entrepreneur has projects aimed at underprivileged children. We have a counter-current project which is to set up mini-libraries for underprivileged children. We want them to grow up with reading habits. We hope to make it happen in the near future? she concludes.

Share this article